Narrow artificial intelligence (AI) is fundamentally changing the approaches, methods, and results of customer management, triggering a renaissance in companies’ relationships with their clients in almost every sector and revealing previously unimaginable opportunities. Narrow AIs are versed in doing one task well; this is the only AI that has been created by humans so far.
The first sector it is being put to use in is customer relationship management (CRM) — the aspect of a company that aims to optimize a business’s relationship with their customers in order to maximize retention rates. AI can analyze data at a rate humans cannot match, giving an understanding that was only possible with huge amounts of manpower before. A prime example is Salesforce Einstein, which studies the data from sales, e-commerce activity, emails, Internet of Things-generated data and social media to make company specific recommendations.
AI can also work in specific sectors, such as helping to streamline outbound marketing by automating banal, time-consuming tasks. Initiatives such as Growbots investigate data customers have provided to develop curated prospect lists, plan campaigns, and send follow up emails at optimal times. The software also uses natural language processing to analyze responses and compile feedback fo the sales team. As their website states, “What the steam engine did for the industrial worker, AI has done for the sales rep.”
Some of the burden of engaging with customers directly can be offloaded to AI chatbots. Using digital labor for conversations with customers can free up the time of customer support, allowing them to deal with more complex and serious customer issues faster. With a success rate of 55 percent, Amelia is an example of a chatbot that learns from previous interactions to provide answers to customer questions — and if the bot detects hostility or cannot provide an answer, it immediately transfers the customer to a human agent.
This technology, then, has the potential to revolutionize customer interaction by attracting new customers and retaining current ones. AI provides a way to tackle the huge supply of information created by the 21st century’s data tidal wave, as well as to harvest the fruits of the increased demand on products and services businesses face in an increasingly corporate world. This results in a mutually beneficial relationship between company and customer, in which communication and support are expedited.
Other aspects of businesses are also being improved through the use of AI. Mya has been developed to make the job application process quicker, with the capability to siphon off unsuitable candidates, schedule interviews, and request further information from potential employees. AI has also started to be used in retail settings, with customers being automatically charged when they leave Amazon’s grocery store — removing frustrating lines from the shopping process.
Many high profile scientists and tech giants, including Stephen Hawking, have expressed concern that applications of AI to the business sector will cause untold damage to the job market, possibly leading to millions being unemployed. However, Louis Monier, the founder of AltaVista, says that this is another example of technology removing less desirable tasks that work necessitates; it is “just like we have always done, from farm animals pulling the plow to steam power and so on.”